Pay-as-you-go broadband - what can I get?

ByKim Staples
Pay as you go broadband

Several years ago, you could use the internet on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis - paying by the megabyte for what you use. But these days, that’s been abandoned in favour of fixed broadband that comes with a ready-set usage limit or no limit at all.

Nonetheless, if PAYG broadband sounds like it's up your street - either because you don't go online much, or because you don't want the commitment of a contract - there are still a few options available. Here's the lowdown, and how to find a deal that suits you.

No-contract, 30-day broadband

If it's temporary internet without the commitment you want, take a look at no-contract broadband. Instead of the usual 12-month or 18-month contracts, some broadband packages are available on just a 30-day basis - so you can stop, start, or cancel it whenever you like.

It tends to be fixed-line, meaning it's more reliable than mobile broadband (more on that later) while also offering affordable prices, and, best of all, unlimited usage. The only downside is that it costs a little more per month than broadband on a longer contract.

Read more about no-contract broadband

 

Virgin Media

Everything Virgin Media has to offer - broadband, home phone, and even TV - is available on a 30-day rolling basis. That includes its ultra speedy 300Mb broadband, and up to 245 channels for your telly. 

Featured Virgin Media deals

Virgin Media
Virgin Media
Virgin Media
Virgin Media
Virgin Media
Player TV Bundle Mix TV Bundle Full House TV Bundle VIP TV Bundle + Talk More Anytime Player TV Bundle with Sky Sports
£416.00 Total first year cost £560.00 Total first year cost £680.00 Total first year cost £1,076.00 Total first year cost £797.00 Total first year cost
£33.00 p/m for 12 months £20.00 setup costs 12 month contract £45.00 p/m for 12 months £20.00 setup costs 12 month contract £55.00 p/m for 12 months £20.00 setup costs 12 month contract £88.00 p/m for 12 months £20.00 setup costs 12 month contract £64.75 p/m for 12 months £20.00 setup costs 12 month contract
Up To 50 Mb Up To 100 Mb Up To 100 Mb Up To 300 Mb Up To 50 Mb
Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc. Day, eve & wknd calls inc. Weekend calls inc.
Channels 94 Channels 198 Channels 257 Channels 258 Channels 106
Over 70 channels! V6 TiVo Box V6 TiVo Box Two V6 TiVo Boxes Over 70 channels!
Go
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Open 24/7
Go
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Open 24/7
Go
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Open 24/7
Go
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Open 24/7
Go
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Open 24/7

Compare all Virgin Media deals

 

NOW TV

All of NOW TV's broadband packages are available on 30-day contracts too, including fibre broadband with speeds up to 76Mb, and all have unlimited downloads. Plus, you can add on a TV Pass at any time to get premium TV channels, Sky Cinema, or Sky Sports.

Featured Now TV deals

NOW Broadband
NOW Broadband
NOW Broadband
Brilliant Broadband Brilliant Broadband + Entertainment Pass Attachment Brilliant Broadband (1 month)
£240.99 Total first year cost £300.87 Total first year cost £363.88 Total first year cost
£18.00 p/m for 12 months £24.99 setup costs 12 month contract £22.99 p/m for 12 months £24.99 setup costs 12 month contract £18.00 p/m for 1 month £59.99 setup costs 1 month contract
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go
Channels 0 Channels 15 Channels 0
Unlimited downloads Offer ends 30/06/18 Over 250 box sets! Offer ends 30/06/18 No contract required Offer ends 30/06/18
Go Go Go

Compare all NOW TV deals

 

Cheap broadband with a usage limit

If the main reason you're looking at pay-as-you-go broadband is because you don't use the internet very much, you may be better off signing up to a basic cheap internet package. These usually give you an ADSL connection (i.e. not fibre optic), sometimes have a usage limit of 25GB or so, and come at very, very low prices. We're talking only a couple of pounds on top of the price of your line rental - or sometimes nothing at all.

It's just enough to ensure that you have internet in your home when you need it, but barely costs a thing.

You'll find broadband offers like this from providers like Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, EE, and more. We say it's well worth switching your phone provider just to cash in on low-cost internet.

Featured broadband deals

Sky
TalkTalk
Post Office
SSE
BT
Broadband Unlimited Fast Broadband Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls Unlimited Broadband - Line Rental Only Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls
£249.95 Total first year cost £227.40 Total first year cost £235.00 Total first year cost £282.00 Total first year cost £369.87 Total first year cost
£20.00 p/m for 12 months £9.95 setup costs 12 month contract £18.95 p/m for 12 months 12 month contract £19.00 p/m for 18 months £7.00 setup costs 18 month contract £21.00 p/m for 1 month £30.00 setup costs 1 month contract £29.99 p/m for 18 months £9.99 setup costs 18 month contract
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 52 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Weekend calls inc. Pay as you go Weekend calls inc.
£50 Prepaid Card! Offer ends 29/03/18 £50 Amazon Voucher Offer ends 22/02/18 £50 Amazon Voucher Offer ends 20/02/18 Unlimited downloads Offer ends 30/04/18 £150 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details Offer ends 22/02/18
Go
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Go Go
Call SSE on 0330 053 5146
Mon - Fri 8am-8pmSat 8am-2pm
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm

Compare cheap internet deals

Mobile broadband

For truly pay-as-you-go broadband, your only option - in the UK, at least - is mobile broadband. This works over 4G and 3G, the same as the internet on a smartphone, and can come in the form of a dongle, a personal hotspot device, or a home router. You can also turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot and connect to that.

Dongle

Mobile broadband is available from most major mobile networks. Some of them offer genuine PAYG mobile broadband, in which you buy a mobile broadband gadget and a SIM card upfront, then top it up and pay for each megabyte you download. However, most prefer you to buy add-ons or 30-day data bundles with a set data allowance you can use. Networks that offer this kind of mobile broadband include:

You can also sign up for a monthly contract. This usually works out much better value than PAYG - especially from a provider like Relish, which gives you unlimited downloads.

Read more about Relish

The good thing about PAYG mobile broadband is that you really can just pick it up whenever you want, and stop again when you don't need to use the internet for a while. You don't have to sign a contract or be subjected to a credit check either. And being mobile, you can take your hotspot or dongle out and about to get internet wherever you go.

Compare pay-as-you-go mobile broadband

However, it's still not as good value as fixed-line broadband - and because you're relying on 4G it isn't quite as stable or as fast.

 

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